Why Rural Homes Often Have Batch Water Storage Tanks Onsite

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To those of us living in the countryside rather than in town, it’s obvious why our rural homes need batch storage tanks for water. It’s not so obvious to every city dweller, apparently–as evidenced by a question regarding my page describing the process we followed in building a double duty water tower. The question:

“What is the purpose of (the) article?”

Uh…let’s see now….we live off grid and….hm. Looks like a bit of explanation is in order.

If a reader lives in a city where water “automatically” comes to your kitchen faucet through city-owned pipes, said reader might not understand that article without a bit of explanation–I never thought of that before. However, we live “off grid” on twenty acres of land near the Mexican border in southern Arizona…and that’s a different kettle of menudo. No public utility provides electrical power, natural gas, water, or sewer lines to our home. If we want to have any or all of these obviously desirable (and in the case of water, actually necessary) goodies in our lives, it’s up to my wife and me to get it done. If it’s to be, it’s up to we.

Which is just the way we like it.

The developer of the land had a well already drilled and in place–but not connected to the home because, when we first arrived, there was no home. The well pump, which is a submersible that actually sits in the water some 325 feet below the land surface, is connected to the surface by a heavy duty electric cable…which is not usually connected to a power source. Beyond that, the homesite we selected wound up being situated far, far away from the wellhead.

Thus, we cannot simply flip a switch or turn on a faucet to have running water in the sink if there’s no water in the tank. In fact, the only time the well pump runs at all is when I take our larger portable generator over to the wellhead (about 1/8 of a mile from our residence), start up the generator, and plug the pump’s power cord into the generator. Which brings us to the “double duty water tower”.

As the first rays of the morning sun penetrate the mesquite, our submersible well pump system becomes visible.

As the first rays of the morning sun penetrate the mesquite, our submersible well pump system becomes visible.

Triple Duty

In that post, I use the term “double duty” to describe the water tower structure. In truth, though, it serves not two but three purposes. Triple duty. When we arrived to homestead this place in April of 2009, we brought our old camp trailer with us…but the camper is so old that the shower had long ago been disconnected. With all these factors in mind (no shower, no running water), the three “duties” of the tower included:

1. Water storage. Until the water tower was constructed and put into operation, all we could do while running the well pump was fill our several plastic water bottles and the square galvanized washtub we used to hand wash laundry. That added up to 35 gallons of water storage at most. The water tower would (and now does) support a 500 gallon storage tank. That’s a big difference.

2. Water pressure. The hand built water tower is not that tall, its top deck standing a mere nine feet above the ground. That deck (under the tank) is held up by four treated posts in the longest length (12 feet) available locally in 2009, each post being set 3 feet in the ground. Yet even these few feet of height provide a little gravity feed water pressure at the tap. It’s not much, but it’s still light years better than having to pour water out of a five gallon jug every time you need to wash a cup.

2. Camp showers. With the shower in the camper not working, the water tower was constructed in a way that reinforced the support under the storage tank while simultaneously providing a place for Pam and me to take camp showers away from prying eyes.

That’s a lot of background, but it does explain why we needed to build a double duty (actually triple duty) water tower in the first place. Now, dear reader, to finally answer your question:

Re: How to Build a Double Duty Water Tower. This article, to state it one more time, explains why we needed the thing. That article explains how we did it.

And that’s the truth.

The double duty--excuse me, triple duty--water tower.

The double duty–excuse me, triple duty–water tower.

From the wellhead, we batch pump water to the storage tank which sits waaay over there near the house.  The Huachuca mountains are in the background.

From the wellhead, we batch pump water to the storage tank which sits waaay over there near the house. The Huachuca mountains are in the background.

Wheel tracks show where I've repeatedly towed the big generator from house to wellhead and back. Had to; the truck needs a battery.

Wheel tracks show where I’ve repeatedly towed the big generator from house to wellhead and back. Had to; the truck needs a battery.

Just the way we like it: No utility company services this brushland area. (That mountain is in Mexico.)

Just the way we like it: No utility company services this brushland area. (That mountain is in Mexico.)

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